If you think wearing a revealing attire will make you more attractive,please take note: People who show more skin are viewed as less competent than those who are fully clothed,says a new study.
However,the study,published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,showed that semi-naked people are not necessarily viewed as mindless objects,but are instead attributed a different kind of mind.
“An important thing about our study is that,unlike much previous research,ours applies to both sexes,” study author Kurt Gray,a University of Maryland psychologist,was quoted as saying by LiveScience.
Earlier theories of objectification have focused on the continuum between viewing someone as a fully mindful human and as an inanimate object. However,Gray and his colleagues focused on a different continuum that goes from being passive to being active.
According to the researchers,people view others as having two aspects of mind: the ability to plan,act and exert self-control called “agency” and the capacity to feel,called “experience.”
For their research,Gray and his team carried out six experiments on both male and female volunteers. In each experiment,the participants were subtly nudged to focus on the body or the mind of other people.
The results consistently revealed that both men and women assign less agency,or competence,to people who weren’t wearing clothes. But they also give naked people more credit for experiencing emotion,sensation and other aspects of experience.
“We also show that this effect can happen even without the removal of clothes,” Gray said. “Simply focusing on someone’s attractiveness,in essence concentrating on their body rather than their mind,makes you see her or him as less of an agent and more of an experiencer.”
That perception may be good or bad,Gray said. For example,he added,”A focus on the body,and the increased perception of sensitivity and emotion it elicits,might be good for lovers in the bedroom.”
People wearing few clothes were seen as having less moral responsibility,but at the same time they were seen as more deserving of protection,the researchers said.
“Others appear to be less inclined to harm people with bare skin and more inclined to protect them,” Gray said.
“In one experiment,for example,people viewing male subjects with their shirts off were less inclined to give those subjects uncomfortable electric shocks than when the men had their shirts on.”
Nonetheless,baring all,or even some,could work against a person’s best interest,Gray said. For example,an increased desire to protect a scantily dressed woman from harm could play into the “benevolent sexism” that holds that women are weak and unable to fend for themselves,he added.